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Lynn says experience has prepared him to lead NH Supreme Court

State House Bureau

February 26. 2018 9:49PM
Justice Robert Lynn answers questions Monday from the Executive Council at his confirmation hearing to be chief justice of the state Supreme Court. (Dave Solomon/Union Leader)

CONCORD — Justice Robert Lynn says his seven years on the state Supreme Court, and his years before that as a Superior Court judge and federal prosecutor, have prepared him to serve as chief justice of the state’s highest court and leader of the judicial branch.

In his confirmation hearing before the five-member Executive Council on Monday, Lynn outlined his judicial philosophy and priorities, while taking issue with anonymous criticism of his nomination received by councilors.

He said his priorities as chief administrator of the Judicial Branch would include more progress on the “e-court” project that has been in the works for years, with the goal of providing digital access to court records, while promoting broader understanding of the court’s role and civics education in general.

“But the most important thing the Supreme Court does is to decide cases,” he said, “and it’s really important that we get those right. Getting it right is really crucial, and that takes a good deal of work, to make sure we dig into the weeds of cases.”

Councilor Andru Volinsky, D-Concord, referred to an anonymous letter and voicemail received by councilors before the hearing, claiming some on the Judicial Branch staff “are concerned about your promotion to chief justice, and they raised issues of how you interact with staff.”

Volinsky did not go into any detail about what the letter claimed, but Lynn did that on his own.

“What the letter seems to describe is that people feel intimidated, that they can’t speak up and voice their feelings because they will be retaliated against,” Lynn said. “That is just completely not the case. If anyone on the Supreme Court family — and I do think of it as a family — thinks that way, it’s a surprise to me and I know Justice Dalianis and the other members of the court would think it’s a surprise.”

If confirmed, Lynn would replace Chief Justice Linda Dalianis, who is scheduled to step down on April 1. Dalianis reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 on Oct. 9. Lynn will turn 70 and have to leave the state’s highest court himself on Aug. 26, 2019.

Lynn was appointed to the Superior Court in 1992 by Gov. Judd Gregg; named chief justice of the Superior Court in 2004 by Gov. Craig Benson; and nominated to the Supreme Court by Gov. John Lynch in 2010.

His nomination to chief justice was endorsed at the public hearing by retired Supreme Court Justice Carol Ann Conboy, former Chief Justice John Broderick and Superior Court Judge Gillian L. Abramson, among others.

Lynn is expected to be confirmed at the next meeting of the Executive Council on March 7.

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